RCN publishes guidance on managing fertility in men with cancer

College urges nurses to be aware of the risks to patients' fertility posed by cancer treatments

Cancer nurses should ensure men are given an early opportunity to freeze and store sperm samples ahead of chemotherapy, which can make them infertile, according to guidance from the RCN.

The college has published the guidance on managing fertility in male patients with cancer. 

It states: ‘Fertility is a critically important issue for many women and men. However, it is not always considered when faced with cancer diagnoses. 

‘It is important for all nurses, especially those working in oncology and haematology, as well as nurses working in wider areas of practice to be aware of the risks to fertility of cancer treatments, and the options available to patients before treatment commences.’

If a man dies during the course of treatment, his partner can use stored sperm to attempt assisted conception. The guidance recommends nurses establish patients’ wishes before sperm storage. Patients’ wishes, if the patient dies during treatment, should also be considered through the use of a consent form. 

Patients should be offered the choice of their sperm being disposed of, the samples remaining in storage for use by a named partner, or remaining in storage for other purposes such as research.

The guidance says nurses should be aware of local policy and guidelines for preservation and storage. 

Information on fertility services is available from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority at

To read the full guidance, click here


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